Five words from the blurb: Paris, school, morality, students, criminal
I have to admit that the blurb of this book held little appeal. A story about the children of wealthy families attending an international school in Paris didn’t sound that exciting, but as we all know, a talented author can transform the dullest premise into something magical and that is what Maksik has done here.
You Deserve Nothing could be seen as a hybrid of three fantastic books:
- Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller
- Rupture by Simon Lelic
- Testimony by Anita Shreve
It uses multiple narrators to question who is to blame when a teacher-pupil relationship occurs and it leaves you feeling sorry for perpetrator of the crime.
It also brings other questions to the table:
- Should teachers be allowed to encourage children to question their religious beliefs?
- Should teachers without counselling qualifications be allowed to talk to children about a terrible event they’ve witnessed?
- What level of friendship/trust is acceptable between a child and a teacher?
On top of these carefully constructed moral dilemmas this well written, tightly plotted book gives an atmospheric portrayal of Paris and what life is like for those living in the insulated bubble of an international school.
The characters are well developed, engaging, but deeply flawed individuals, and the continual switching of viewpoint created a fantastic sense of foreboding.
Literature lovers will enjoy the discussions that take place in the seminars of this international school. Shakespeare, Faulkner and Keats are among the many authors introduced to the students and I ended up longing for an English teacher as passionate.
The ending was perfect and I will be thinking about the issues raised in this book for a very long time.
This is one of my favourite books published in 2011 and I hope it gets the attention it deserves.